Archive for the ‘Corey Stapleton’ Category

by Pete Talbot

Nothing like a trip to the Magic City of Billings to put things in perspective: where an in-law tells me about his buddy who’s making $2000 a week welding on a pipeline in the Williston Basin, where I meet a man who runs a big (I mean really big) shovel at Colstrip, where my sister-in-law’s new boyfriend is working maintenance at the Stillwater palladium mine south of Columbus. All these guys are bucking the recession.

They don’t give a sh*t about DADT or DREAM. “It’s the economy, stupid.” (A quote attributed to James Carville during Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign.) Which is why, even though at some point in their lives, the workers mentioned above belonged to a union, they voted Republican in the 2010 midterm election.

Shortsighted? Without a doubt. These guys aren’t millionaires and the Republican Party doesn’t represent them. But they think it does.

So, when my progressive cohorts rail against Sen. Jon Tester on the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, and DREAM, I have to do a little reality check. You see, I agree wholeheartedly with the progressives but after living in Montana for 45 years, I like to think I have some insight into the Montanan mind set. And Billings is about as Montanan as you can get.

At this point, these Billings workers aren’t going to vote for someone to the left of Jon Tester. Hell, Tester barely won his seat in 2006 against a corrupt incumbent who had insulted women, firefighters and most minorities. And you’d have been hard pressed to find a better candidate to go up against Republican Conrad Burns than that big Montana dry-land farmer with a flattop and missing fingers.

It isn’t about the lesser of two evils. It’s about pure evil versus a mainstream Democrat; like Denny Rehberg v. Jon Tester in the 2012 U.S. Senate election or any Democrat against Rick Hill/Cory Stapleton/Ken Miller for Montana Governor.

It isn’t easy for me to write this post. Having been called a Socialist, a Communist and a red scurvy dog, I figure I’ve earned my progressive credentials. But sometimes one has to step back and look at the world, the country and Montana the way it is.

I’m not going to quit pushing my elected Democratic officials to be as progressive as they can be. And I’ll continue to critique their bad votes as I’ve done in the past; particularly Sen. Max Baucus but also Sen. Tester and Gov. Schweitzer. And to quote Jim Hightower, “I’ll keep agitatin’.”

by Jay Stevens

Recently, state Senator Corey Stapleton slammed the blogs in a puff-piece profile:

Stapleton himself was later attacked on state and national blogs after the Great Falls Tribune reported a joke he made that “no one in the Negro caucus” objected to the Legislature working on Martin Luther King Day.

Matt Singer of the blog “Left in the West,” called the remarks “deeply, racially insensitive.”

Stapleton said he was frustrated by the media attention, especially from bloggers, whom he calls the “angry, unaccountable, anonymous media.”

“We change our language that we choose almost as frequently as we change the passwords on our laptop,” Stapleton says. “We’ve just learned to hide our differences in political correctness.”

Criticism by liberal blogs does more harm to a citizen legislature like Montana’s, Stapleton says, than to professional politicians. “It dissuades average, moral people from wanting to get involved.”

Last night I was all eager to write about this, about how Stapleton’s remarks were unfounded, that what we do is write about stuff that legislators actually do or say, and that should not discourage any honest or “moral” people from serving. Quite the opposite.

But then I read Matt Singer’s reaction to the remarks. He – justly – notes Stapleton’s own double standard, where he felt free to use his position to belittle and humiliate others, but he also recognized similarities in his own blogging style and Stapleton’s sweeping statements:

In fairness to Senator Stapleton, though, I think people — both in Montana and across the country — are sick of the sort of partisanship that both he and I probably practice more often than we should. That’s one of the reasons why when he accused myself and others of being unpatriotic, I asked advice from some people, took a deep breath, and asked for an apology, rather than moving to denounce immediately.

I’m not sure that I support Barack Obama for President, but I do know that I think he’s right when he says that our problems aren’t too big, but that our politics has become too small. We rarely see leadership any more — from the blogs or from elected officials. We see people playing leaders. And by we, I mean you, dear reader, because I often worry that I’m as much a part of the problem as I am part of the solution.

With that, I’d actually like to thank Senator Stapleton for reminding me that I have some obligation in this process — to work harder to treat my opponents with respect.

I’ve lately been mulling a similar thing here at 4&20 blackbirds. I’ve often used this blog to attack letter-writers or conservative activists in my “Creep” category. While their rhetoric needs to be countered or corrected, I think my criticism has often crossed over into attacks on their character. That’s fine for politicians, IMHO, who abuse their offices and the public trust – like Corey Stapleton has – but I think it’s a little over-the-top for folks who are just letting off a little steam. I should know, I’ve been the subject of a few invective-laden tirades and some threats. Not at all fun.

So the Creep category is being retired.

I’m not so sure I would go as far as Matt, though. The Republican Party has exercised ruthless partisanship and vitriolic rhetoric during their recent run, using fear and hate to motivate their base and draw votes. I don’t see much hope in laying off legislators who, say, declare war on the Democratic party, who subvert the legislative process to create a budgetary crisis, or who start fistfights on the House floor. In the end, I will respect those that earn respect, and call out those who deserve it, regardless of party affiliation.

by Jay Stevens

Did you see this? Classy:

In opening-day remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton, R-Billings, spoke directly to Kitzenberg and said his post-election party switch “undermined the integrity of the Senate.”

“On Election Day, the voters decided on an equal Senate and, senator, you decided that they were wrong,” Stapleton said.

Let’s ignore the fact that voters vote for candidates, not necessarily for party control of legislative bodies. Let’s ignore for another moment the fact that Kitzenberg wasn’t even up for re-election in 2006, and the time of his party switch actually benefited the GOP. (Could you imagine how Republicans would have whined at the pre-election bombshell announcement by Kitzenberg that he was switching parties because the GOP increasingly had no room for moderates?)

Instead, let’s focus on the incredible hypocrisy of Corey Stapleton’s remarks.

Remember, Stapleton is a leader of a party that publicly announced a few days after the election it was abandoning its party platform. Got that? Stapleton et al erased all of their pre-election promises…then has the gall to accuse Sam Kitzenberg of unfairly manipulating the election process?

Let’s allow the new Democrat speak on why he made the party shift:

Kitzenberg said he’s comfortable with his decision, and that he’s representing his district, because the Democratic agenda better serves his district and the state.

“I want to fight for the causes that I believe in,” he said in an interview, and those causes include more money for education, lower college tuition and expanded health coverage for Montana citizens. “I think I’m where I should be. My integrity is intact.”

I’m sure not a few Montanans are indeed wishing for a do-over, Senator Stapleton. But not because of Sam Kitzenberg.

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